What are Ground Cherries?
You may have never encountered a ground cherry before. You may think "ground cherry" is what happens when you drop your bag of groceries on your way to the door. Or you might think, "Ground cherry? I think you mean husk cherry, or cape goosberry, or strawberry tomato." But no matter what you think when you hear the name "ground cherry," If you haven't been previously acquainted with the less popular, sweet-tart fruit that pops up this time of year, it's time to hang out together.
Ground cherries look like tiny tomatilloes. They have a papery husk on them that might be off-putting if you've never picked them up before—sort of like the wizened ghost of cherry tomatoes. But don't be afraid of these little fruits, since they have a ton of flavor, and they're excellent in all kinds of applications where you'd otherwise use tomatoes.
As Food & Wine's Kat Kinsman wrote, "Ground cherries are perfect eating when they're ripe and raw—just husk and pop them in your mouth. A recent salad that paired late-summer Sungolds with ground cherries was a revelation to me, but they're also an easy one-to-one swap with cherries or small tomatoes in raw or cooked recipes. Jam, jelly, salsa, pie, cake, tarts, muffins, pickles, sauces, salads—they're all ripe for reinvention with the addition of ground cherries."
You can find ground cherries at some supermarkets and farmer's markets this time of year, and if you do, grab them. The little papery husks mean that they'll stay fresh for a while, and you can experiment with your stash in the fridge. What to make? How about this okra and tomatoes dish, but with a few ground cherries thrown in with the tomatoes? You could also pickle those ground cherries like tiny tomatoes to intensify that sweet-sour contrast. They'd be great in a salad, or in a pasta salad, too. Try them any of those ways, but just make sure to try them.